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The Wicker Man (2006) - Review

The Wicker Man

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Director Neil LaBute, Producer Norm Golightly And Editor Joel Plotsch.

THERE’S something of a must-see status attached to this remake of the 1973 UK horror classic – if only to discover how terrible it is!

In attempting to relocate the action to present day America, writer-director Neil LaBute has veered hopelessly off course and delivered one of the most hapless movies of an otherwise notable career.

The Wicker Man stars Nicolas Cage as Edward Malus, a mild-mannered policeman attempting to recover from the torment he suffered following a traumatic road accident involving a young girl and her mother.

When he receives a cry for help from an old flame (Kate Beahan) who informs him that her own daughter is missing, Malus heads to the mysterious Summersisle to do all he can to help her.

Once on the private island, however, he finds an insular community who don’t seem interested in helping him.

As he becomes convinced that something evil is about to happen involving Pagan rituals, Malus comes to realise that his own fate may be intrinsically linked.

From the outset, LaBute’s film struggles to escape the notion that this was a subject matter best left alone. The concept, though updated, struggles to convince within a contemporary American setting.

What’s more, there are very few surprises or genuine scares given the film’s low certificate (it was 12A upon cinematic release). Viewers who haven’t even seen the original will probably know where it’s heading and LaBute offers very few twists in getting there.

Cage, too, looks lost for most of the time and struggles with a wretched script that requires him to beat up women and run around the woods in an over-sized bear costume. It’s the point where the film loses all credibility as a horror and feels more like an inadvertent comedy.

Once the ending comes about, it’s something of an anti-climax as LaBute opts to honour the original in its entirety.

The DVD release certainly makes for intriguing car-crash viewing without ever really satisfying – although a commentary from the director, his producer, Norm Golightly, and editor, Joel Plotsch, does at least provide some insight into what they were trying to achieve.

It doesn’t make up for the experience of watching the movie but it does at least offer some form of explanation.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 102mins